Whistler’s Walk author speaks to hikers

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By Eric Wilson

A “hiker-active” crowd of about 75 met at Scotsburn Fire Hall on March 2 for the 2019 Cape to Cape Trails membership and public meeting.

Brief reports were given on signage and volunteerism (Tom Brennan), Why We Hike (Jim Vance), Historical Perspectives (Ken Fraser of Pictou County Roots Society), Pictou County Trails Association and Cape to Cape finances (Fran Wyman, PCTA), Hike Nova Scotia Trails Strategy (Michelle Young, Pictou Rec and HNS) and Federal Perspectives (MP Sean Fraser).

Attendees from all over Nova Scotia enjoyed beverages supplied by the fire department. Also in attendance were County Warden Robert Parker and Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane. The event was organized by Eric Wilson (C2C membership chair) and Elaine Falconer (C2C public relations chair).

The main attraction was a presentation by Bill (Whistler) Monk from Annapolis Royal. After retiring from a successful 31-year career in grocery retail, Whistler (his trail name) hiked the entire Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2017 — a distance of 2,189 miles — in 142 days. This works out to 15.4 miles per day (25 km/day). He spoke on subjects such as the origins of trail names, trail “angels”, trail jargon (NoBo, Zero, Nero etc.), communities along the AT, weather, equipment, good and bad experiences, health problems (feet mainly) and trail hunger (food becomes an obsession). To illustrate these points, he read excerpts and poems from his successful 2018 book, Whistler’s Walk.

He also spoke about some of the people he met, like “Scooby” who hiked 800 miles with him and triumphantly summited Mount Katahdin, Maine (5,267 ft) at the end of the 14-state journey. Dale “Greybeard” Sanders was also encountered. The 84-year-old hyper-athlete went on to complete his south-bound thru-hike a couple of months later. Fellow Nova Scotian and 2003 AT thru-hiker Gordon “Gimp” Warnica acted as a trail angel along with Whistler’s sons and daughters in Georgia and South Carolina.

Whistler met many 20-something thru-hikers who were either just preparing to enter college or university or had recently concluded studies. The common theme was that time on the trail gave them a chance to “buy some time,” meditate on life and prepare for the future. Based on the solid character of those young people, Whistler said he was certain that our countries will be in good hands in the future. In April 2019, Whistler will start hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Go to trailjournals.com to track the journey.

At lunch time folks bought signed copies of Whistler’s Walk and witnessed the unveiling of the new Cape to Cape Trails map across Pictou County, designed by Kevin Burley, GIS tech for the Municipality. Deb’s Café hosted several people for lunch and then hikers went up the Fitzpatrick Mountain Trail or along the Jitney Connector to the Durham Hills Trail.

For more information on Cape to Cape Trails check Facebook Trails of Pictou County or the website capetocapetrail.ca.

Eric Fraser gets his copy of Whistler’s Walk signed by the author, Bill Whistler Monk.  (Wilson photo)